Home Foreign News Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in the path of huge California wildfire –...

Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch in the path of huge California wildfire – National

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Micheal Jackson’s former residence, Neverland Ranch, is in the path of an out-of-control California wildfire, prompting an evacuation order for it and other nearby ranches and homes.

The fire, called the Lake Fire, has been raging since late Friday afternoon in the mountains of Southern California’s Santa Barbara County.

As of Sunday evening, officials said the fire was only eight per cent contained and the cause was under investigation.

Neverland Ranch, as well as other ranches, was in immediate danger Sunday evening, said Kenichi Haskett, a public information officer for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE).

A fire truck is seen near the entrance to Neverland Ranch, former home of late singer Michael Jackson, as the Lake Fire continues to burn in the Los Padres National Forest, in Los Olivos, Calif., on July 7, 2024.

Daniel Dreifuss / AFP via Getty Images

Haskett told the New York Times on Monday that firefighters worked through the night Sunday and into Monday morning to prevent the blaze from consuming more than the 20,000 acres it had already destroyed. Livestock ranches, which are home to about 500 people and thousands of animals, are currently watching the fire to see where and when it will move next.

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About 100 people were ordered to evacuate the area Sunday evening, including those at Neverland Ranch. According to The Independent, the property has been the site of restorations lately as one of the filming locations for an upcoming Jackson family-backed biopic that is due for release next year.

Jackson owned the 2,700-acre property from 1998 until his death in 2009. He purchased the ranch for about US$17 million and had it outfitted with a train, a zoo, an amusement park that contained several fair rides and a 50-seat theatre.

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He named the property after the fictional world inhabited by Peter Pan, and said he sought to recreate a juvenile paradise to make up for the childhood he felt he never had.

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FILE – Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch on Nov. 18, 1990 Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Calif.

Paul Harris / Getty Images

The property was marred by controversy when several accusers came forward in the late 1990s and early 2000s and said they were abused by Jackson at Neverland as children. Although he was acquitted at a 2005 trial, Jackson’s reputation and Neverland Ranch were tarnished, and he never returned to live at the ranch.

Neverland was sold to billionaire investor Ronald W. Burkle in 2020 for US$22 million. The property was rebranded the Sycamore Valley Ranch and the rides were removed.

The Lake Fire is the largest in the state so far this wildfire season, and one of 21 wildfires burning in California on Monday, CAL FIRE said. The U.S. Forest Service says more than 750 firefighters have been assigned to battle the blaze and are receiving support from 10 air tankers and three helicopters.

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